Fairfield County Edition

What Samsara Teaches Us

Altering the Subtle Cycles in Our Daily Lives

Samsara is the never-ending cycle of life, death and re-birth. Are we here on earth to break that cycle and reach enlightenment? We dive into prayer, yoga, meditation, and an endless array of energy and spiritually awakening activities. While these are inspiring and noble endeavors, the question still remains if we are returning and not breaking the cycle to reach “pure freedom”.

Life is said to be about suffering, and that we will continue to suffer until we can clean up our karma and reach enlightenment. But we need to ask ourselves what that even means. We all have to muddle our way through our daily lives with work, bringing up children, cooking, chores and more; there isn’t much time left to concentrate on our “spiritual journey”. How are we ever going to become enlightened and find ultimate freedom? 

View things in life as if they were illusions, detach with compassion from all living and material possessions, meditate for hours a day, become a vegan, do yoga, and walk away from all things you desire. Sounds a little too much, no? Where do we start?

The majority of us are not ready to become the next Buddha—maybe in our next life. However, it doesn’t mean we are lost either to this perpetually never-ending life. There are many places to break the cycle when we first understand that everything is a cycle. We need to identify the smaller cycles which then will ultimately change our lives. They can bring freedom from the reccurring dramas and sufferings of our everyday lives, from the too-common worries of money, illness, sadness, depression and so on.

Let’s look at these smaller cycles; without recognizing them and understanding that they need to be broken first, we will get no further. These smaller cycles are prevalent in our lives and influence us more than we can imagine. Breaking the negative cycle of our thoughts is paramount. For a moment, contemplate the thoughts we have in a day, or broken down further into minute to minute. Did we think a negative thought about our day this morning when we woke up or looked in the mirror? We haven’t even gotten started with our day, and yet we can’t get past the thoughts that may seem fleeting only because another one has taken its place. Add in thoughts about the weather, a commute or getting the children ready for school…the scenarios are endless. 

Be aware of thoughts and how many are negative or positive. For instance, we may have a negative thought on the way to work while stuck in traffic. We may go into autopilot, our mind reaching for the most habitual reaction, which may include some expletive. Next time this happens and you react negatively, take a breath, put on some music, and say that the situation is completely out of your control. The outcome will be the same; you will arrive at your destination but the journey will be a more positive one. 

Another example is when we open the front door and it’s raining, snowy, cloudy or humid; instead of thinking about what a lousy day it will be, embrace the change of seasons we have and dress appropriately. Don’t “throw” the day away. A simple practice to begin is when someone says a greeting and asks how you are, reply “great!” Even if something is going on in our lives that is bothering us, we are trying to change the negative chatter. 

These negative thoughts and actions should not be judged as harmful. They are normal and there so we can choose better and elevate our positive vibration to begin changing ourselves and our lives. They help us grow. Look at them as bad habits and opportunities to turn our lives around. We will feel so much better with more energy and joy by the end of a positive thinking day. It really is that simple.

The concept of Samsara in Buddhism teaches that human beings have the ultimate control over themselves. If our daily lives are characterized by negative thoughts and actions, they will be dominant in our lives and we will experience suffering. If, on the other hand, we strengthen our positive and useful behavior, our daily happiness and joy will increase and become the prevailing experience. This starts the journey to accepting others and to eventual enlightenment. Only then will the cycle of Samsara be broken.

Berta Prevosti, a certified Reiki master and yoga teacher, is the owner of The Jiiva Center. The center offers yoga classes, yoga teacher training, a school of Reiki, private Reiki and massage treatments, meditation classes, workshops, and retreats. Connect at JiivaCenter.com. See ad, page 20.

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